A Travellerspoint blog

Oyi wala doŋ Ghana!

Weeks 15, 16 & 17

Our last few weeks out here have been so much fun. We've been really making the most of our time doing lots of teaching and Lily has had the chance to teach the violin which she's really enjoyed. We attended an interesting music conference about the position of women in the music industry which taught us a lot about the struggles out here and gave us a better understanding of how the industry works. Our teaching at the school has improved and we sang for the Lebanese minster of education last week and we were so proud of the children they were brilliant.

Thanks to all the kind donations we received on our fundraising page we have managed to build a playground from tyres, buy a speaker and bass/keyboard leads, pay for some bass lessons for one of the children who is now amazing, pay for three of the girls to have glasses so they can finally see properly and Mary can stop breaking every dish in the kitchen and build a long wooden table so everyone can eat together (even if one of the legs is slightly shorter than the others...). It's really made such a difference so thank you!
The oldest girl at the center finished her exams last week (finally) and really wants to go to University in September to study Economics. We have decided to make this our next mission and are looking into all the ways to make this possible for her.

You'd have thought being British we'd have learnt not to plan something for a bank holiday Monday...Our fundraising concert was met by a glorious tropical rainstorm causing everyone and everything to get soaked. Rainstorms out here are a bit like snow in England (everything stops and travel is not easy). This meant that in the afternoon we did not have the crowd of people we wished for. Despite this, the evening turned into one of the best nights of our lives with every one sat around long tables eating, drinking and dancing on top of the chicken house...which is now a rather sorry sight - though no chickens were harmed. We still managed to raise about 800 cedi which is amazing and our true thanks go to our kind friends for their generous donations out here.

So much has changed since our first few weeks...We've adapted to the crazy driving and are no longer shocked or surprised by the horn beeping or motorbikes driving into us. We've learnt a lot more Ga and find it a lot easier to understand what is going on (well, most of the time) and our African spice tolerance has dramatically improved though we cannot wait for runny tummies to be a thing of the past! We really feel at home out here and will take a lot back to England with us. We've made some amazing friends and met so many wonderful people - they've all taught us so much and we will definitely be coming home with fresh eyes (tired but fresh). There are some things that you cannot put into words as they cannot fully capture the final picture of everything we have experienced out here. However, what we can say is that through our music we have discovered a whole new world of social change and we want to do everything we can to help the children we work with reach their potential as they deserve the world. Ghana, we will really miss you but don't worry we are coming back next year! Until then, Woya Shien!

Love Lily and Hannah xx

Posted by HannahandLily 04:53 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

Hakuna Matata

Weeks 12, 13 & 14

38 °C

Lily is 21! We had such a lovely day for her birthday - Hannah managed to surprise Lily by taking her to a lush restaurant where free prosecco was the birthday gift! Needless to say after 3 months of little alcohol we were struggling...it's a good job the children surprised Lily with their version of an African present when we got back which involved chucking large quantities of cold water over her much to their amusement. We then spent the rest of the evening in a full swing African dancing party and it was so much fun.

Three new lovely music volunteers have arrived. Polly, Fiona and Emily have come to teach the violin for three weeks and so we have a big team of music volunteers now which the kids are loving. We are really keen to do a big fundraising concert with them when we're all back in England for the centre so keep your eyes peeled! (Think we might need to do a bit of practice first though). Speaking of fundraisers, we are busy planning a fundraising party for the 1st May out here. We have a flyer all ready to go and have been busy in meetings trying to gain sponsorship and advice. We are also busy making lots of pretty jewelry, bags and stationary with Jay and the children to sell at the event and turning the sewing room into a gift shop so they can continue to sell these items once we have left.

We are starting to teach the children our Lion King Mashup this week - Michael and Mary are our soloists for "Can you feel the love tonight" and they sing so beautifully. Martin is bravely tackling the keyboard accompaniment with some highly entertaining face plants when it goes a bit wrong... This weekend they have their first performance opportunity at a cafe nearby. The cafe is run by a really friendly architect who has big plans for Jamestown so we really hope that we can set up a partnership between him and the centre for the future.

If you have ever seen Toy Story 3 (specifically the scene in the nursery where the toys think they are going to play with a group of lovely calm children and soon realise that it is quite the opposite) then you will be able to empathise with us. Meghan and Mani (the two children of Jay and Nii) attend an international school payed for by an old friend. The school is mainly attended and run by a Lebanese community. We were invited by the headmistress to go and teach some music to the children after she heard Mani singing some of the songs we have taught our children. Safe to say, it was one of the craziest experiences ever! We were teaching children from the age of 3 to 7, something neither of us have much experience of, let alone when we are left by ourselves with the children, quite literally penned into a small un-air conditioned classroom with the teachers begging us to keep them for 5 more minutes as they can't cope with their behaviour! Some of the teaching was really fun and we are teaching them a song for a programme in May however, they are all rather spoilt children and listening was not something they were used to. They did however, love our penguin dance song and the hokey cokey. It's an interesting challenge for us but we are grateful for our week off!

Julianna, Charity and in particular Mary all struggle to see and haven't had their eyes tested for a few years. Mary has managed to break every cup and plate in sight and Charity was starting to have headaches whilst trying to revise for her exams. Thanks to the amazing kindness and generosity of our friends and family who have donated we have used some of our fundraising money to get their eyes tested and buy them a pair of glasses (and a case so Mary doesn't break those too!) They are so grateful and love their glasses so much.

We really are having the best time of our lives and are trying not to feel sad about the thought of leaving in about 3 weeks! England had better be sunny when we get home or we are coming straight back here!

That's all for now, we'll see you for our last blog in three weeks!

Love Lily and Hannah xx

Posted by HannahandLily 03:49 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

"Mommy look, a Warthog!"

weeks 9,10 & 11

Just a short one today...

We've had the best month out here travelling the country and seeing all that Ghana has to offer. Lily's boyfriend Jack came out to join us for 10 days and we started our travels with a 13 hour bus journey up to Tamale (which is in the North). We visited Mole National Park and Hannah and Jack both saw wild Elephants for the first time which was such an amazing experience. We also nearly got charged at by one which wasn't so amazing. Jack also got mistaken for a Warthog by a rather hilarious American child much to our amusement.

Following our trip to the North, we headed West on an even longer 15 hour trotro ride to Wli falls. Here we went swimming in the waterfalls and climbed to the top of the highest waterfall in West Africa and then Lily nearly fell down it again as we got caught in a tropical rainstorm on our descent - muddy bums all round. Next was Mountain Paradise (true to it's name) where we trekked through forests surrounding Mount Gemi - everywhere we stayed was so beautiful! Leaving here, we had a super fun motorbike ride to Ho where we continued on to Akosombo. We stayed in an amazing lakeside retreat where we went jet skiing, canoeing and swimming in the lake. It was then time for Jack to head back to England, so we took him to Jamestown in Accra to meet all of the children we work with. The next day we both carried on to the South where we had a week of luxury swimming and sunbathing in some of the most incredible places we have ever been in our lives! Often we had a whole beach to ourselves and slept in super cool huts on stilts on the beach. We really did have the best time travelling (helped by the 20p Gin) and all the people we met were so friendly however, after two and a half weeks we really missed the children and knew it was time to head back.

Since then, Martin's keyboard skills are rockin', Philip has remembered all of his xylophone parts so we are very happy and we put the band together for the first time to play through 'Reach for the Stars' and it sounded incredible! This week, three new music volunteers are coming which will be great. We've also been invited to teach in a school after one of the teacher's heard two year old Mani singing one of the songs we taught them. We will teach them songs for a programme for the 5th May (the day before we come home!) It is Lily's birthday this week so we are preparing ourselves for a Ghana style party on Wednesday followed by an English party on Saturday - we are very excited!

Whilst we were away, Daniel (the amazing dancer) was offered the chance to go to China for a year to join a dance troupe. They will pay him and provide him with accommodation and food so it was too good of an opportunity to turn down. We are very proud of him and really hope he will do well - although we will miss him a lot! He has promised that now he has a passport he will come and visit us in England which would be so much fun.

Farewell for now from a 40 degree Ghana,

Love Lily and Hannah x

Posted by HannahandLily 06:23 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

Woooooooah we're halfway there

We cannot believe that we have been out here for 8 weeks now - time is going so quickly! We thought we'd had our fill of Ghanaian drama but CRASH the car hit a mango stand leaving Hannah covered in Mani's sick and Lily with a knee the size of Mars. Thankfully we are all ok and faring much better than the poor car, though we weren't so impressed with the 3 hours sat in the Police station which followed, still covered in sick. We're so so lucky as it could have been much worse.

A new volunteer is coming today! He's coming to teach English and Maths for 6 months, so we hope he likes it! Our teaching is still going really well. A few weeks ago we taught everybody how to sing a song called 'Aloha' which is very pretty and so now we are teaching it to them on the recorder so they can all play and sing it together at our concert. The "boy band" which consists of Martin on the keyboard, Joseph on the bass, Philip on the xylophone, Daniel on the ukulele and David, Bright and Richard on the drums is starting to sound really great! Richard (the youngest member of the band aged 11) is definitely the leader and keeps us all thoroughly entertained with his energy and conducting. Joseph is still enjoying his bass guitar lessons and improving everyday. He's enjoying his lessons almost as much as his teacher is enjoying seeing Lily; the marriage proposal is imminent, so it's a good job her boyfriend Jack is coming out to visit on Saturday!

Following the arrival of Jack, we are going to go travelling for 3 weeks to explore the different areas of Ghana. We will head up North to a National Park first and then play it by ear from then! We have realised plans are impossible out here...this is not necessarily a bad thing as we feel when we are back in England we will be a lot more patient and not worry or stress when things don't go to plan e.g. our dissertations!

Last night we had a pancake feast! We think we made about 80 which considering we guessed the measurements, only had a camping stove and were in 35 degree heat, is quite impressive! The children had so much fun, especially when we let them loose with some extra pancakes for their flipping competition! Every day we love the children more and more and feel such a strong attachment to them. They are all so unique and so full of character they keep us very entertained - you couldn't possibly have a favourite! We are fond of Mary who cooks us our food with her bossy yet quirky personality (definitely shown in the interesting breakfasts we are served...), Juliana for her kind heart and all round awesomeness...we could go on but we don't have much time! They are all so helpful, kind and fun to be around and we're so grateful for the opportunity to get to know them.

We have also grown accustomed (nearly) to all the things we struggled with in the first week. Our spice tolerance has increased, we are much more used to the heat, aside from the car crash, we're used to the scary driving and the constant car horns are mere background noise now, and we are pros at hiding the lumpy grey goo which still occasionally finds its way onto our table at breakfast time! There is still room for improvement with our knack for choosing the worst taxi drivers ever - we either get a marriage proposal or a scenic trip to the wrong location, or on a very good day, both. Our dancing is still slightly embarrassing compared to theirs - they are all such incredible dancers with amazing hip action and moves we didn't even know existed. Daniel is still trying to teach us a group dance but whether we will have the courage to perform it at the concert we shall see...

That's all for now! We'll update you on our travels when we get back at the end of March, providing we don't get squashed by an elephant or lost (don't worry Mum, that's not going to happen..).

Posted by HannahandLily 02:06 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

It was all going swimmingly...

We are never moaning about the food or the weather out here again after spending a week in a Ghanaian hospital. We take back everything we said.

Week 5 went well and very quickly. We now have full accompaniment for all of our songs using African instruments. Nii mentioned he had a friend who was a bass guitarist and so we have used some of the money that was donated to pay for him to come and give one of the boys bass lessons as we felt a little out of our depth trying to teach this! His lessons are going really well and he is picking it up really quickly so we feel he won't need many more until he is a proficient player and can work out patterns to songs by himself. We are also teaching Martin the keyboard (he is the most confident at reading music) so he can become the accompanist and hopefully teach others when we are gone. He is already passing on his words of wisdom to the other young boys much to our amusement. We thought that by working closely on one instrument with a few of the older children it would help to give the project more structure as they can pass on what we have taught them.

From her previous placement, Hannah learnt how to make bracelets from string and so we are passing on this knowledge and teaching the children out here so they can sell the bracelets to make some money. Jay is an excellent seamstress and has a small hut where she makes bags and placemats. We are hoping to encourage her to start making some more so she can sell them and maybe set up a little gift shop on site that tourists can come and visit. We recently bought some material to make an African dress as well so we can't wait for her to show us how to sew!

Last weekend, we had an amazing visit to Cape Coast (about 3 hours away from Accra). We spent Saturday at Kakum National Park wobbling on rope bridges through the tree canopies - it was an incredible experience - before heading to a bar overlooking a beautiful beach where we taught the bar tender how to make a g&t! On Sunday we had a tour around Cape Coast Castle which is an old slave castle used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade to hold slaves before they were shipped to America. It was quite an emotional experience and made us slightly embarrassed to be white.

It was all going swimmingly until Monday when Lily started to be sick. We weren't concerned until by the early hours of Tuesday it was no better...13 hours later she was discharged from hospital with a bacterial infection so put on a course of antibiotics and told she would be fine. 13 hours following this, she was back in and feeling worse. In true Africa style, it was a viral infection not bacterial hence why she was not feeling better on antibiotics. They kept her in overnight and she is now fine but slightly scarred after sharing a ward with women in screaming labour. Hannah is recovering from a numb bum after sitting by the bed all day. We do now have Doctor Joyce on speed dial, though we are hoping that we won't need to use it!

We are now counting down our last two weeks before our travels around Ghana so will be busy doing as much teaching as we can before we head off!

Posted by HannahandLily 03:34 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

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